The feeling of life growing inside you is the most incredible thing and the bond that you create with your baby before they’re born is extremely special. Your baby is with you through everything, every poorly day, every happy moment, every tear you’ve cried. They fill you with confidence to keep going on the days when you feel like you can’t.
When you’re pregnant everyone asks how you’re doing and how you’re feeling. But when that bump disappears the focus is straight to the baby and you can’t blame people for that, it’s just hard to adjust to that when you’re still healing physically and mentally. Everyone wants a cuddle but sometimes you just need a cuddle yourself. Your hormones are all over the place, boobs are leaking through your clothes, you’re practically wearing a nappy and you don’t know how long it’s going to take until you’ll be okay with simply going to the toilet without any pain. People don’t tell you about this part but it’s important to know that this is the reality of it and it’s completely normal.
You leave the hospital and it’s daunting to just walk to the car. You’ve been in a lovely little bubble with your newborn and then you step out into the fresh air and you’re not a pregnant woman anymore. You’ve been handed this human to keep alive and you’re questioning your ability to do that without being able to buzz in a member of staff for some help. Your stomach that was once so full of life now feels like a deflated balloon. A check up with the Midwife leads up to the common question “How are you feeling?” You feel inclined to say that everything is great. Why wouldn’t it be? You’ve got your gorgeous bundle but your body is in bits and you can’t remember your last proper sleep.
I remember being so heavily pregnant and hating it, so many women would tell me how much they missed their bumps. I didn’t understand the concept but now at nearly three months postpartum there are parts that I miss so dearly. A baby bump is like a bodyguard. Everyone is so much more aware of you and careful. After your baby comes out you feel at your most fragile for quite a long time but that bump has now gone. Your body is going through so much and so many changes that you kind of wish you had that security blanket. If you could wrap yourself in bubble wrap you would, just so people would know to be delicate with you and give you the space that you need.
You struggle to recognise yourself. None of your clothes fit the way they did before. The maternity clothes drown you and you have this whole new body to dress. “Oh wow look at her she’s back in her jeans already!” Unlikely. The size 8 jeans you used to wear are hidden in your wardrobe and you’ve just bought a size 14 with money you don’t really have to simply wear jeans again. You’re trying your best to come across like your body has shrunk straight back to normal, hiding any sign of the last nine months. When your clothes come off and you look in the mirror and feel nothing but ugliness. Your body is covered in stretch marks to show all of the physical changes that it has endured to bring such an amazing thing into the world but you’re struggling to celebrate this incredible journey you have been on.
Have you bounced back? No. You’ve adjusted, you’ve changed and you’re starting to accept that it’s going to take time to feel like you again. You’re doing your very best at simply existing. But you are all that your baby knows and all that they needed for such a long time. They will love every part of you, your face with no makeup on, your messy hair, your tired eyes and every single mark covering your body that they once grew in just weeks before.
You’re now a parent, a provider, a caregiver, a kisser, a cuddler, a feeder, a burper, a lover, a Mum. And when your baby looks into your eyes that’s all you ever need to be.